[ Tea Party sirens go off ]
NOT THAT KIND OF PROBLEM.
I mean Mexican restaurants. Specifically, upscale Mexican. I was thinking about this a lot while working on the review for Saint Añejo, the new M Street cantina that recently opened.
(I don't want to belabor Saint Añejo it too much. I loved the space and the service, didn't like the food. You can read about it here.)
I haven't been to Alegria yet in Green Hills. Carrington went last year and liked it: "To be sure, Alegria's cuisine is more than just a bean-and-cheese-slathered sidekick to its strawberry-, jalapeno-, cilantro- and peach-infused margaritas."
Opinions seem pretty divided on Cantina Laredo in the Gulch. I know some people who swear by it and others who won't go back. I can take it or leave it, but that's just my point: There's a dearth of really refined places, much less any that delve into regional specialties.
It just takes one trip down Nolensville Road to know that Nashville has a wealth of great Mexican and Central American options. But that's not what I'm talking about here. How many Mexican/Tex-Mex menus elsewhere in the city run the predictable gamut of tacos-fajitas-enchiladas-burritos-carne-asada-insert-dish-here? Most.
And it's not that there's anything particularly wrong with that — I've spent time in a couple of Las Palmas locations, so I'm no aesthete, here — but where is the place that is willing to use Mexican cuisine as a viewpoint and not a set of handcuffs to the same menu we've been eating off of for years?
If you're a Top Chef fan, you've probably seen the work of Carlos Gaytan, whose Mexique in Chicago marries technique honed in French restaurants with a point of view that is uniquely Mexican. The result? A Michelin star this year and last. I think Nashville would go nuts for that kind of place.
What do you think? Is there a place that I'm missing? Do you have a go-to place for really good Mexican?
The result is a nice, light wine that is enjoyable and easy to drink. I recently brought my review bottle to a dinner of (vegetarian) Indian food — thinking that the pairing would be appropriate — but we finished the wine before we were even seated. It starts fruity with a hint of honey and finishes with a taste of citrus, but it’s still rather dry. I didn’t feel a spike in my blood sugar like I do with some whites, though its drinkability let it sneak up on me. I had to slow my roll at the beginning of my second glass.
Overall, it works quite well with light hors d’oeuvres but would also pair quite nicely with a dinner of pasta, fish, and/or light meats. It also stands on its own. At roughly $15-ish per bottle, it’s certainly worth a try.
If you prefer a red — or your occasion calls for it — Masi produces a sister wine to the Masianco, a red dubbed Campofiorin (actually Masi’s first “Supervenetian”). The Campofiorin is more commonly known (from other vintners) as Ripasso, but the Masi wine is made from Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes, with a portion of the grapes dried and shriveled for a second fermentation.
My review wine was the Campofiorin 2009, which was a very pleasant and drinkable wine, though best paired with hard cheeses instead of light hors d’oeuvres or on its own. It’s defintely suitable to eat with a hearty Italian cuisine or rich holiday dinners that include roasted or grilled meats. The wine is a deep red with notes of cherry and spices, finishing with a hint of chocolate. It was clear from the taste why the Campofiorin is one of Masi’s most popular wines. Retail price hovers around $18 per bottle, so it’s a perfect holiday dinner party wine.
For the official grand opening, The Southern Steak and Oyster will be providing the eats, and Elizabeth Eckert and The Gypsy Hombres will entertain the crowd from 5 to 9 p.m. Tennessee Brew Works' variety of beers has started to show up at growler fill stations, bars and restaurants all over town, so it's easier than ever to try out some of their wares. For more info, visit tnbrew.com.
Kennard will start work on Jan. 20, the mayor's office said today. In the announcement of her appointment, Mayor Karl Dean alluded to the Farmers' Market's role in tourism and promoting Nashville's current momentum as a food city.
“The Farmers’ Market is a gem in our city and seeing it become a major attraction and gathering place is important to me,” Dean said in the release. “Tasha comes to us with the ability and energy to further develop the Farmers’ Market into a premier destination where local residents and visitors have access to fresh, local produce, diverse dining options and workshops that educate on choosing and preparing healthy food. I appreciate the Farmers’ Market Board for sharing this vision with me and bringing Tasha on board to help us realize it.”
Kennard had been with Second Harvest for eight years. Her projects included fundraising campaigns, volunteer services programs and Together We Grow, a children’s container garden and nutrition program serving at-risk youth in Davidson County.
"I love this restaurant," Anderson says of Catbird Seat. But he also loves his fiancée Malone, named a 2013 Best New Chef in Food & Wine. "I was also getting offers to open my own place in Minnesota. It just made more sense for me to move there than for her to move here."
Anderson said the concept and business plan for his new restaurant in Minnesota are set; he's working to flesh out the financing and select the right space.
Opened in 2011 to near universal acclaim, The Catbird Seat quickly shot to prominence on both the local and national dining scene. It was a unique setup, with Anderson sharing the chef duties with Josh Habiger at the center of a 32-seat chef's bar above the Patterson House in Midtown. The restaurant was named a finalist for a James Beard award as best new restaurant in America.
The Catbird Seat also began showing up in seemingly every national publication that covers dining, with magazines from Food & Wine to Esquire writing about the restaurant's unique setup: two chefs cooking in a tiny, open kitchen before patrons. At a flat $100 per customer for a set tasting menu (and optional beverage pairings), it was like nothing else in Nashville dining (and pretty novel in the nation as a whole).
The good news for Catbird fans is that its owners at Strategic Hospitality plan to continue the restaurant. The company released this statement today:
Nashville has had a few decent spots for aspiring chefs to learn the trade, but with the rapid expansion of the hospitality industry, many of the graduates have been immediately pulled into hotel and convention center kitchens. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s a gig.)
Nashville restaurateur Randy Rayburn has been instrumental in working to expand the educational opportunities for aspiring chefs, and he was acknowledged for his efforts with the honor of having the cooking school at Nashville State Community College (Nashville Tech to old heads like me) named after him. But his work didn’t stop there, and last month Mayor Karl Dean, Randy Rayburn, Nashville State representatives, Piedmont Natural Gas Foundation and Company executives unveiled the new culinary arts facility at the Southeast Campus of Nashville State Community College near Hickory Hollow.
Now morning television has taken notice, and Today has selected them to take part in a "Marketing Makeover" segment for small businesses across the country that are looking to take their business to the next level. Marketing guru Martin Lindstrom will spend a day working with the Worleys to discover the ins and outs of their operation and then suggest a new branding for their business. While I'm personally quite fond of Biscuit Love, it never hurts to have a professional make some suggestions. (But if it ends up as "Biscuitopia" or he changes the "c" to an uppity "q" in the word "biscuit," I'll take umbrage.)
The new branding will be released in a Marketing Makeover Reveal Party at White's Mercantile in 12South today, Dec. 11, from 4 to 8 p.m., and the Worleys would love to have a good local crowd there to share in the excitement. The Today show's correspondent Erica Hill will be the reporter covering the piece, and they'll be filming her segments from 4 to 6, so come early.
Here are the details:
2908 12th Ave. S.
Nashville, TN 37204
Time: Dinner service from 4-8 p.m., with live music
Don't bother to bring one of those annoying signs that people always wave behind Al Roker's head. Nobody really cares that the Pink Hat Society of Hattiesburg, Miss., is "taking on Manhattan."
So, it was with some trepidation that I headed to 1306 McGavock Pike, the new location of Mitchell Deli, just one block away from its old much-beloved location at 1402 McGavock. The restaurant closed its old doors on Nov. 28 and reopened in the new, bigger space on December 4. Crossing Riverside Drive to get to the new location shouldn’t be that big of a deal. It is less than one block away. But Mitchell has been at its old location since 2008, meaning it was in Riverside Village before anything in Inglewood was cool. It has a certain nostalgia, if you can be nostalgic about something so new you can remember when it didn't exist.
Well, change-adverse Inglewooders, you can stop holding your breath. The new Mitchell Deli is bigger and fancier than our old favorite, but it is the same old sandwich spot. The menu is slightly enlarged, with some specials, like the Asian flank steak, now on the regular menu. (I’m hoping more space means more varieties of Bagel Face bagels to be added in the near future.) The ingredient list is still weighted heavily toward goods that are made nearby. There’s a soda bar, and draft beer is in the works.
Brad Mortensen is the Nashville brewmaster at Rock Bottom, and he was excited to get to play with a new recipe. I have to say that I thought the result was fantastic. Winter Tartan is a traditional Scottish ale with a smooth, malty flavor and a hint of vanilla. There's a nice toasted chocolate character from the use of caramel malt, and just the right amount of hoppiness to make it interesting without overpowering the seasonal flavors.
Winter Tartan is available exclusively at the Broadway location of Rock Bottom at least through the end of the year. They've also added some seasonal items to the food menu like a Swiss Portobello Burger to accompany the new brew, so drop by before a Preds game to try them out.
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
Participants will start with a Turkish-style fish dish, discover what makes this dish work; and move onto soup, changing garnishes to examine different taste sensations. Next comes salad greens, vinaigrette, and a lovely spicy lamb app where the class boldly challenges the art of Tunisian heat. Save a little room, because it will all be capped off with a decadent dessert, whereby the class picks one of three dessert wines as the winner.
But wait, that's not all. Not even close. Kevin McCauley, the manager of Hattie B's, is teaching five different classes this year. I attended one of his seminars last year and found it to be very entertaining and informative. And delicious. For 2014, McCauley will join with Hattie B's John Lasater for a class called Southern Basics. There are rumors of both traditional and hot fried chicken on the menu, so wear your eatin' pants. McCauley will also teach technique classes based around pizza, pasta and seafood, as well as how to plan the ultimate brunch.
Lisa Mays will reprise her Paella Party class that she offered at Natchez Hills Winery over the summer. Like paella, comfort food is on the menu at two other classes, Easy Winter Comfort Food taught by Merijoy Lantz Rucker of Whole Foods, and Vegan Comfort Food for All from Chef Rusty Johnson of Grins Vegetarian Cafe. I've taken classes from both of these instructors in the past and can promise you won't go home disappointed or hungry.
Will Uhlhorn of Miel answers a question that is frequently asked here in Landlockedopolis with his class Learn to Cook and Source Seafood. (Apparently the answer does not involve a Captain named D or a pirate named Long John Silver.) As director of the Grow Local Kitchen at the Nashville Farmers’ Market, Chef Laura Wilson has a lot of experience teaching culinary classes, so USN is lucky that she has volunteered to teach a seminar titled Yes You Can: Pickles and Preserves. People who have attended a similar seminar at the NFM have told me it's a great class.
Another opportunity that has me intrigued is a market tour and dinner hosted by the fabulous Jennifer Justus. She'll be leading and excursion into the international side of our Nashville’s cuisine, specifically Kurdish food. According to the course description, "This will include learning about Kurdish flatbread, eating dinner at Shish Kabob, and imbibing a dessert of ice cream with saffron and rosewater. Vegetarian options include dishes like Tabbouleh, Falafel and Ash Paz (a blend of feta cheese, sour cream, walnuts and spices) served with Kurdish flatbread." Unfortunately, I'll be teaching a class on Feb. 26 while this tour is going on, so I hope somebody can report on how awesome it was.
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